The Ministry of Justice has published the increase in court fees which came into force on Monday, 9 March 2015. The move sparked outrage within the business and legal communities and prompted the Law Society to issue a pre-action letter threatening the government with a Judicial Review on the basis that the fee increase is unconstitutional.
The change resulted in court fees being calculated based on a percentage of the value of the claim with a fee for claims with a value of £10,000 and over, now being charged at 5% subject to a maximum cap of £10,000. Therefore, a previous maximum money claim fee of £1,920 has now increased to £10,000.
This move sparked debate and criticism including accusations that the government is turning the courts into a commercial enterprise imposing ‘tax’ on legitimate claims and restricting access to justice. It is believed that the biggest sufferers from this move are small businesses. Government initiatives purport to encourage and support development of small businesses, but issuing proceedings for an unpaid debt of £60,000 will now cost a business £3,000 instead of the previous figure of £910. This will push some businesses who are trying to maintain a positive cash flow closer to the edge of insolvency.
The other vulnerable group of claimants are those who seek to bring claims for personal injury. Those who have suffered personal injury and may not be able to work may seek compensation to cover their living expenses and any other additional expenses that they may incur helping them to cope during the term of their recovery. It is not uncommon for personal injury claims to last for several months, in which case an injured party may now need to decide whether to spend their cash on payment of court fees or keep it to cover living costs.
Civil and Family Court Fee leaflet is available here.